It’s a shade before 7am and I’m still in bed. The phone bursts into life.
“Hi,” it says.
“Hello,” I reply.
“Just to let you know. I’m running a bit late. I’ll be round in ten minutes.”
“OK. Bye,” I say.
“Who was that?” asks my wife.
“Your guest is running ten minutes late.”
“I don’t have a guest coming round.”
“Well, who was it then?” I ask.
“I don’t know. Why didn’t you ask who it was?”
“I just thought…”
“You really are…”
“What? I really am what?”
“You really are rubbish at taking messages while you’re having sex.”
“Can you do any better?” I ask.
“I’m doing it right now,” she laughs and I hear the familiar whoosh sound of a text being dispatched.
I can tell by the look of sheer concentration on my wife’s face, that she is now seeing this as a project. Dual satisfaction within ten minutes, then get dressed and answer the door. I, on the other hand, am more of an educator. I’m viewing this an opportunity to let my oldest child take on door-opening responsibilities.
Our oldest is nearly thirteen. Lately, I have been introducing him to important life skills. Little steps, building up to the big day where he gets to slice cheese using the big knife.
“Stop rushing,” I say.
“Normally, I like the fact that you take ages,” she replies. “But can you speed things up a bit?”
“Just relax. Why don’t we let the boy answer the door?”
“Shut up. Does anything happen if I do…this?” The bed covers flutter dramatically. I don’t exactly know what she did but it allowed me to keep to her schedule.
The doorbell chimes. I can hear my son’s bedroom door open, followed by heavy footsteps thundering down the stairs. My wife gets up and slides her feet into slippers.
“Stop,” I say. “Let him do it.”
“But…he’ll never reach the top bolt on the door.”
“At least let him try.”
My wife and I lay on the bed and try to decode the muffled sounds coming from below. I am going through the door opening routine in my head: keys, bottom bolt, top bolt – chain. I look at my wife, who also seems to be mentally running through a routine. If it’s based on the last ten minutes, it would be: grab, throttle, yank – repeat.
I hear a bolt slide open. Keys jangle and then, finally, another bolt slides open. The door creaks. We hear muffled voices. It sounds like they know each other.
“Who do you think it is?” asks my wife.
“I don’t know,” I reply. “But does anything happen if I do…this?” The bed covers flutter dramatically. My wife giggles.
“Dad!” yells a concerned voice from downstairs.
“We can hear what you two are doing from down here.”
My wife looks at me in shock and whispers, “Who can hear us? Who?”